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Breaking out in mobile games with a team-first approach & continuous optimisation

Breaking out in mobile games with a team-first approach & continuous optimisation

Akin Babayigit is co-founder and COO of Tripledot Studios.

When we set out to create Tripledot Studios about two years ago, my co-founders and I wanted to re-think the way in which gaming companies are usually built. Instead of a product-first approach, we wanted to take a team-first approach by getting together the most talented, motivated individuals we knew shared our vision; our big ambition was to create a totally new way of thinking about mobile gaming, which we think of as "The Apollo programme of mobile gaming."

We truly believe that the best way to win in this competitive market is to bring together the best talent you can, in an environment where they flourish, and then be ruthless about continuously measuring and optimising every aspect of your business.

Our founding team brings together a lot of relevant industry knowledge, which we wanted to leverage as we were getting started. Lior Shiff, our co-founder & CEO, had co-founded Product Madness, one of the largest social game companies in the world. Eyal Chameides, our Chief Product Officer, was also part of the Product Madness founding team, and founded GameChangers NGO. And I had been running business operations for King Digital Entertainment, and before that I was part of the team that launched Facebook Audience Network.

We were also fortunate enough to partner with our investors at Velo Partners, who are not only experienced investors in the gaming sector, but also believed in our team-first approach from the very beginning. Even with all our understanding of the gaming world, we knew we had our work cut out for us. The mobile game portion of the app ecosystem continues to grow and is more and more competitive.

We knew having a sophisticated waterfall was extremely important.

Growing and growing

There is a reason for that. Mobile games have a huge (nearly $70BN) market, which is growing at 10% y-o-y [1], commanding an audience of 2.4 billion people [2]. According to a recent report by App Annie - mobile games account for 33% of all app downloads, 74% of consumer spend and 10% of all time spent in-app.

In this competitive market, our talented team decided to start by improving upon a few titles that have very loyal players. So, rather than immediately trying to create never-before-tried titles, we decided to reduce market risk by using data and creativity to optimise time-tested games like Crossword Puzzles, Solitaire and Sudoku - and then focus on the execution of these games.

We spent countless months optimising; we improved various aspects of our games. Even after seeing early success with these titles, we always continued to push the boundaries and never settle in improving our products. It is thanks to this continuous improvement mindset, and our amazing team and investors, that we have seen strong results for our titles and we now have the privilege of serving millions of players with our games. This success will allow us to take bigger bets in the future and expand into new categories.

Knowing that we operate in a highly competitive field, optimising our monetisation is essential; we needed to ensure we were monetising in a smart way that would keep us profitable and let us continue to have the funds to keep creating great games. We monetise our games through ads and as such, we knew having a sophisticated waterfall was extremely important. Initially, we had highly competitive, multiple call waterfalls with every large network optimising each ad type as much as possible.

Take a chance

However, in the spirit of never settling and always looking to improve, we decided to take a chance on a new technology that promised to improve our ad monetisation: In-app bidding. Header bidding for the web had been live for years and sites were reaping the benefits of this unbiased, auction-style format. Once we heard there were strong solutions that were bringing bidding to apps, we knew we had to try it.

We try to always strive for the better, never settle, and always look for innovative ways to continuously improve our business.

Wanting to eliminate part of the manual effort in waterfall management, We decided to test in-app bidding with MAX by AppLovin, and using A/B testing we saw an ARPDAU lift of around 20% in our games portfolio. We have long session times, so building competition for ad impressions and never losing an impression is key for us.

Bidding also led to lower latency on the ads being served in our game, and the transparency of the platform allowed us to make changes to our monetisation in real-time. Before we switched to in-app bidding, we were concerned that our session length and technical stability would be negatively affected, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that this is not the case.

The nature of the auction style bidding means our players are more likely to see ads for apps they're interested in, with no delay. Since switching to in-app bidding, we have seen a surprising additional improvement: Our banner ad performance has been improved, especially in longer gaming sessions.

New tricks

Taking the leap and testing this new technology led us to increase our ARPDAU, and led to a better experience for our users. Much like we did when we set out to create a new type of company that would push boundaries, becoming early adopters in in-app bidding has proven to be a worthwhile choice. Since we have seen nothing but positive results from in-app bidding, we have moved over the other games in our portfolio.

Our business was built on the idea that we should keep testing and never settle even after we've seen some success. Whether it's in starting a company, developing games, or monetising our business - we try to always strive for the better, never settle, and always look for innovative ways to continuously improve our business.

By bringing together the best people, giving them the best environment we can provide, and finding innovative ways to improve our products, we are hoping to create a 'once-in-a-lifetime' company, and we are just getting started.


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